Talking sense

PUBLISHED: 11:34 05 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:18 06 May 2010

SIR, — A big thank you to C. Stewart (Herts Advertiser, May 29), for such a sensible reply to the comments (May 22) about all the cyclists are on the pavement . For someone starting to cycle, the potholes and cars can be off-putting. However, the hundred

SIR, - A big thank you to C. Stewart (Herts Advertiser, May 29), for such a sensible reply to the comments (May 22) about "all the cyclists are on the pavement". For someone starting to cycle, the potholes and cars can be off-putting. However, the hundreds of us who cycle regularly - on the road - can assure any beginners and nervous riders that things are not as bad as they seem. Many problems with cars and potholes can be avoided by cycling well away from the kerb, giving yourself room to manoeuvre.

The officially-recommended position for a bicycle in slow traffic is the centre of the lane, four to five feet (1.5m) from the kerb. This makes sure that cars cannot try to squeeze past and will stay behind you until there is room to overtake properly. At other times it is sensible to be further to the left, about three feet (1m) from the kerb, giving yourself somewhere to go if a car does come too close. Never ride closer to the kerb than 1.5 feet (0.5m). Think big - you are not holding up the traffic, you are part of the traffic.

While pavement cycling is illegal with the chance of a £30 fixed penalty, the Home Office Minister has said that this "is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users". However it is often more dangerous for a cyclist on the pavement than than on the road because of the road-crossings, where cars do not expect to see a bike. Even Denmark, acclaimed for its cycle network, has many accidents where cycle paths cross roads.

Anyone needing advice or encouragement would do well to look at the St Albans Cycle Campaign June programme (at tinyurl.com/3jcyxy) and join one of their rides or visit their market stall.

PETER MILNE,

Alma Road, St Albans.

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